There are a few boxes every Oscar contender has to tick off if they hope to contend for the Academy’s top prize. You have to be liked. You have to be respected. And it helps when you are financially successful.

Sir Ridley Scott’s The Martian found itself on the receiving end of all three of those components over the weekend, which is why we’re discussing it in the Awards Blend column today. Scott’s exhilarating adaptation of Andy Weir’s novel banked an impressive $55M – just missing an October box office record set by Oscar contender Gravity back in 2013. Positive reviews certainly helped. The Martian is enjoying a 94% Fresh grade on Rotten Tomatoes, with 209 Fresh reviews.

But is it an "Oscar" movie? The first time I watched Sir Ridley’s sci-fi thriller in Toronto, it felt more like a free-flowing crowd-pleaser, and not quite an awards-contending drama. On a second pass, however, the human drama hit harder, the director’s nimble dance through the science impressed even more, and Matt Damon captivated in what amounts to an impossible role. The Martian actually does feel like a contender at the moment, and the successful weekend – both critically and financially – has prompted me to revise my charts accordingly.

Here, then, is where I think the Oscar contenders sit on October 5:
 
oscar winner prediction
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The Frontrunners

Spotlight
Steve Jobs
 
The Contenders

Bridge Of Spies
Brooklyn
Carol
Concussion
Ex Machina
The Hateful Eight
Inside Out
Joy
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Room
Trumbo
 
The Dark Horses

Beasts of No Nation
The Big Short
Black Mass
By The Sea
Creed
The Danish Girl
The End Of The Tour
Freeheld
In The Heart of the Sea
Love & Mercy
Straight Outta Compton
Suffragette
The Walk
 
The Longshots

The 33
45 Years
Anomalisa
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Our Brand Is Crisis
Sicario
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Truth

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